Sexwale lays down the law

MINISTER of Human Settlements Tokyo Sexwale says he will adopt a zero-tolerance approach to "people who want to render any part of this country ungovernable".

Speaking to the media yesterday after presenting his housing budget vote in Parliament, Sexwale slammed the hundreds of residents of the government's flagship N2 Gateway housing project who had earlier in the day marched on Western Cape Premier Helen Zille's office, calling on her to take over the project.

The residents stopped paying rent after their poorly built flats developed leaks and cracks.

But Sexwale said though mistakes had been made in the N2 Gateway project, "there are limits to social and political activism. People should not take activism to the level where they are undermining the texture and nature of the country".

He said the "law would be tough" on anyone who rented a flat from the government but did not pay.

He also asked shack dwellers who were told to move to temporary transit camps to "trust the government with those decisions".

"We understand why people are located where they are, even if they occupy someone's land illegally. They want to be close to amenities and, yes, they are squatting on someone else's land," he said.

Sexwale said some informal settlements would be upgraded.

"There is no magic wand that will wipe the settlements away - we are going to have to struggle along."

He said the government needed an extra R102billion to build houses and amenities for all those in need by 2012.

Sexwale also slammed banks who red-lined houses in townships, creating "dead assets" for owners, who can't use their houses as collateral for other ventures.

He called on the private sector to "go the extra mile" to help the government build houses in the recession.

The minister said he had a plan - he did not yet want to reveal - but would present to a meeting with the leadership of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange soon.

But ID MP Joe McGluwa said Sexwale needed to solve the problem of "new houses that rapidly deteriorate owing to poor workmanship".

The ID also criticised the rural housing loan fund for giving 31 percent of its funding to Gauteng, and none to the rural Northern Cape.